American Literature Discussion board

For your initial post, respond to TWO of the four prompts below. Initial posts are due by Friday. This first post should range from 300-350 words.

. Is Rip Van Winkle a sympathetic character? Does Irving seek to make us feel sympathy for him, particularly in his relationship with his wife, Dame Van Winkle? What is suggested by the following statement near the end as Rip settles into his new existence: “But there was one species of despotism under which he had long groaned, and that was—petticoat government” (40)?

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2. Like “Rip Van Winkle,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” suggests a distinction between Dutch colony and American nation (in the figures of Brom and Ichabod, respectively). What is Irving saying about the difference between the two communities?

3. Chapter III of The Last of the Mohicans introduces Natty (Hawkeye) and Chingachgook—already familiar figures for readers who know The Pioneers—and a new character, the young and powerful Uncas. And almost nothing happens except an extended conversation. What are the purposes and effects of inserting this chapter of discussion in the opening pages of an adventure story?

4. In her article “’I Have Been, and Ever Shall Be, Your Friend’: Star Trek, The Deerslayer and the American Romance,” critic April Selley argues that the male-male bonding between Natty and his Native American sidekick Chingachgook laid the groundwork for later American heroes and their ethnic sidekicks (Journal of Popular Culture 20.1 [Summer 1986]: 89-104). These ethnic sidekicks, Selley argues, tend to be more effeminate, and thus enhance the masculinity of the European-American hero. Two famous examples of this would be the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and Captain Kirk and Spock. Do you agree with Selley’s reading of Cooper’s characters here? Can you think of other examples that fit (or complicate) this model in contemporary culture? (This is a site that can help you answer the questions.)

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